One week ago, after a busy week of courses and therapies, with Sunday looking like the first really free day, the phone rings at 4 a.m. Usually, it is either someone from Asia forgetting about the time zone or some kind of an emergency. Private number, says the screen of the phone. The ringing stops before I could answer it. Someone who had one too many, I tell myself, go downstairs, get a glass of cold tea and return to bed. The sleep is shattered, though. I decide to try and snooze some more, and when I am about to drift away, the phone rings again. With a visible number, now, and no, it is not Asia. It is the mother of an ex classmate of my son, desperate that her 20 year-old child did not report on the come back time and he was still not home. According to criteria all over the world, these “children” are adults.
Instead of dismissing on the spot the agitated and worried intention of the call, I feel this woman’s mood creeping onto me, like a contaminating wave of gray drizzle. Is everything all right? The boys are out to town, clubbing. The heart starts racing. This is too much. I take the phone and for the first time in months I am playing on the colored screen. Everything is calm. The method works, and after winning 3 top scores, I plunge back into dreams. And through the dream I can hear the door at 5 am. The clubber is back .
I woke up touched by this woman’s agitation and her self-induced pain. At the toothbrush time I had decided to talk to her, not because she had ruined my only quiet night of the week, but because she needed help. Her obsession on this youngster, a bright and handsome guy, touches his soul like plague. He needs to experiment and get to know the world. And then I thought what I would do with her in therapy. Any psychologist would try and reveal the rusty mechanisms and wheels in her mind in order to determine a return to the normal logic in the mother-son relationship. Then something else came to my mind.
Mindfulness is the English word, and fortunately English translates better than other languages what is called Sati in Pali, smṛti in Sanskrit. It is found from the Upanishads on, being one of the fundamentals of the Hindu scriptures and Buddhist teaching.
Attention, concentrated on reality but especially on the present moment, becomes a real power when combined with a clear understanding what is going on. Presence is a word that seems really adequate, because it combines the focused attention on now with the potential connection to a superior energy layer that we call Divine, Self and so forth.
Buddha preached about touching presence by continuous practice of calm awareness of the body, feelings, mind and moods. Constant practice leads to wisdom. Far from transforming one into a victim of circumstances, the presence should be combined with discernment .
And all people I had met during the week came to my mind. A large number were under the shadow of agitation. Something bad happened at work, my girlfriend left me, my lover is jobless, I do not know what is happening to me – although wonderful, I am scared… and so on… and so forth…
Thinking back of all these people, their common problem is that they ran away to yesterday and tomorrow, into regret, sadness and fear. Regaining the presence and coming back here, now. There is no yesterday, no tomorrow, just now. Allow yourself to have this moment of personal silence before getting sucked back into the whirlpool of fear and suffering. Then compare the two feelings and decide if it is worth starting to train the mind.
And if the answer is yes, start today, with ten minutes of mindfulness. Watch your mind. If it drifts to yesterday, bring it to now. If it runs into tomorrow, bring it back, into now. Ten minutes later, compare how you feel> is it different from the moment you started the daily training.
One can get a nice biceps in the gym, in two months. But when you train the mind, you may feel the effect from the first moment, and what is wonderful is that this muscle never aches from overload :).